I have worked the last few months as a short term hire teacher. I have been teaching Math to 8th graders. Their original teacher had to leave for family issues. They had a long term sub that quit when the kids tormented her. They ran off another one. Then an ex marine was there for about a month. She was very strict and did pretty good staying alive. It must have been the training. Then there was me.
About a month or two prior, I decided that my life needed a bit of a kick start. I had crumbled my former life and it lay in ruins about my feet. I had managed to not get crushed by the weight of the walls of Jericho. I had some scrapes and bruises. I learned much about how I had mislaid the bricks that protected me. I saw the flaws in my foundation and structure. I set to work, well I bent to my knees and asked for help from God. I needed to rebuild correctly this time. I needed to grow. I took a job as a school bus driver. It allowed me to stay near my kids, trying desperately to have a relationship with them despite the onslaught of maligning that has taken place. I enjoyed driving the bus. I think I miss that job, actually. Some days, more than others. I decided to apply for a teaching license in Colorado. It seemed to get hung up in the same snags that many of my other tries did. It was going down for the third time when I applied in NM. I was bewildered when the lady on the phone said I would have my license in 3 weeks. I didn’t really believe her, but applied for jobs anyway. I got a call the next week, accepted a job, and started working 3 weeks later!
It has been a glorious adventure. The kids are hyped up and disoriented. Like a blind hound dog on a fox hunt. The have faltered and that has resulted in misbehavior. So, they did what any teenager would do. They tested me. It was pretty funny to see. They would implore for grades, break rules, drink from the wrong fountain, and take their time returning from the bathroom. Sometimes, they would cuss under their breath, other times not under their breath. They didn’t hand in homework. (I asked if they thought, “This will get him”?) They cheated on assignments, and tried to on tests. Sometimes I would bust them, other times I’d ignore it. I told them I didn’t care about the answers as much as getting the process correct. (I didn’t tell them that if the process was right, the answers would be.) I said I wouldn’t grade any papers that didn’t show work. Grades plummeted briefly.
Then I made flubber. I split the class into two teams: red and green, to match the flubber. I made a grid on the floor with tape. Each team had to try and bounce flubber into the grid. Each person got one try to land on the 3×2 foot grid. Then I explained that they had just made a scatter chart with flubber, and showed them the x and y axis of the grid. I placed a stick among the plots and described the line of best fit and the resultant slope. I found the mean and boxed in 50% of the points: 25% above and 25% below the mean. Then extended sticks to encompass the range and explained box and whiskers. At that point, the kids grumbled that they just wanted to play with flubber, not learn….suckers!!